This recipe will make three loaves of bread. Toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, bread with soup for supper — you’ll eat three loaves inside two weeks. I make this every two weeks, year-round. It’s adapted from a recipe in The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book. I grind my own whole wheat flour, but you don’t have to do that. Regular whole wheat from the store is coarse-ground, so mix it half and half with enriched white flour to keep the bread smooth.
9 cups fine-ground hard whole wheat flour, or half-and-half white flour and regular whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon oil
Stir the salt into the flour. Stir the yeast into the 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir the honey and oil into the 2 1/2 cups of warm water. (Vegan? Use 2 tablespoons of sugar instead of the honey.) Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir until too stiff to stir. Lightly flour a flat surface and turn the dough out on it. Knead 600 strokes.
Gee, that’s easy. You don’t have to know what dough “should” look like. Just knead it 600 strokes. I count by 20’s, sprinkle on a little more flour if it’s getting sticky (it will), and keep going. Add flour a little at a time. Putting down a whole bunch of flour at once will work too much flour into the dough. Just use enough to keep it from sticking to your table or counter.
When you’re done kneading, make the dough into a ball and put it in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a pot lid and let it rise until doubled in bulk. (Test it: wet your finger and gently press in to the first knuckle. If the dough fills in the hole, it’s not raised enough. If it sighs, it’s too raised but just do the next thing anyway. The hole should just stay in the dough.) This takes about three hours in a room about 18C. You had some studying to do, right?
Turn the dough out and gently press the gas out of it. Form it into a ball and put it back in the bowl, cover up, and let it rise again until it doubles in bulk again. It’ll take about half as long as last time.
Turn the dough out and gently press the gas out of it. Divide into three equal pieces. Grease three loaf pans with cooking spray, and press a piece of dough into the bottom of each one. Press firmly in, and make sure it fills in the entire bottom of the pan. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let the bread rise in the pans until it has filled the sides all the way up and is arching up over the pan in the centre.
Preheat your oven to 425F. Put an oven rack in the next-to-lowest slot. Take off the plastic wrap (gently) and slide the loaf pans into the oven. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325F and bake for 40 more minutes. When they look done, gently shake the pans and see if the loaf “rattles around” a little inside the pan. If so, it’s done. Put them on a cooling rack, brush the tops with oil and let them cool completely before you cut into them.
I bag them up in old bread sacks and keep them in the refrigerator. They stay fresh and won’t mold for at least two weeks.